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Volume 2 • #12 • August 2003


This country has gone balmy over the question of testing. Apparently the “experts” and some non-experts like George W. Bush, subscribe to the notion that the more you test kids the more they learn. Consequently many states have mandated extensive testing in fourth, eighth and tenth grades, with the results determining whether a student gets a high school diploma or not.

This is supposed to weed out the “non-performing” schools and inspire students to do their best. Instead, it has scared many little kids half to death, increased drop-out rates in older kids, sealed the fate of dyslectic kids, upset parents, cost an average of 19 hours each year of vital teaching time, encouraged teachers to cheat on their class scores, and both dulled and dumbed down the curriculum. An innovative teacher who can really get the kids excited about learning something is not allowed to introduce anything in the classroom that is not in the “curriculum frameworks ” however much it may fire up the students to learn something new.

But it is worse. Would you be really astonished to learn that the “under performing schools” turn out to be in poverty areas where class sizes are enormous, teachers stressed out, supplies used up, textbooks outdated and kids undernourished? Or that the highest scoring schools are those specialty schools in affluent suburbs where the kids are expected to go to very selective colleges?

Isn’t that amazing?

You might think that the answer would be to pour money and resources into the poor schools and get them up to snuff. But “no child left behind” apparently only means the ones that were ahead to start with because the federal government has done nothing to help the financially strapped states, preferring to let them squirm.

My beef is, obviously, the damage that is being done to the hapless dyslexics of this world. Unable to read well enough to pass the tests, in classes where the teacher had no idea what to do with them, they are denied a diploma, often even with superior IQ’s and herculean efforts on their part to make sense of what they see on a printed page. Or they just drop out and do the best they can at low-level jobs for which they are intellectually over-qualified, costing the taxpayers the benefit of their brains at a time when the country can use all the brain power it can muster.

There actually is a legitimate excuse for certain kinds of testing, but more of that later. What we have right now is a disaster.

Teaching Tip:

Years ago when I first started the taped spelling exercises, I found this trick to be the most helpful of anything I did and I have been using it ever since. Let’s say the word is “magnet”. Hold out your left fist and tell him to say the sounds he hears, one by one. As he says /m/, you stick up your first finger. When he says /a/ you stick up your second finger and so on. Holding up one finger in the right order for each sound is good for everything that ails him- phonemic awareness, letter sequencing, and accurate hearing.

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Archives (2001 files in .doc format):

July 2003 - Vol. 2, #11 July 2002 - Vol. 1, #10
June 2003 - Vol. 2, #10 May 2002 - Vol. 1, #9
May 2003 - Vol. 2, #9 March 2002 - Vol. 1, #8
April 2003 - Vol. 2, #8 February 2002 - Vol. 1, #7
March 2003 - Vol. 2 #7 January 2002 - Vol. 1, #6
January 2003 - Vol. 2, #5 December 2001 - Vol. 1, #5
December 2002 - Vol. 2, #4 November 2001 - Vol. 1, #4
November 2002 - Vol. 2, #3 October 2001 - Vol. 1, #3
October 2002 - Vol. 2, #2 September 2001 - Vol. 1, #2
September 2002 - Vol. 2, #1 August 2001 - Vol. 1, #1
August 2002 - Vol. 1, #11  



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